Cover Image: Pretty as a Picture

Pretty as a Picture

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Member Reviews

The best parts of this book were the world in which it was set and the voice of the narrator. I don’t know anything about filmmaking, so this story introduced me to a world that was both foreign to my experience and deeply interesting to read about. As for the narrator, she experiences the world differently than most people and  spends so much of her time trying to put other people at ease while battling with herself to seem “normal”. Her struggle forms the emotional heart of the book. Recommended for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
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Marissa Dahl is a movie editor hired to replace another editor on a movie based on the murder of a young girl 20+ years ago on the island of the actual murder.  Marissa comes across as a quirky, neurotic, OCD individual who I did find entertaining.  She is persuaded by 2 pre-teen girls to help disprove the theory of the suspected killer and then another murder occurs.  The road to the current day murder is long, it doesn't happen until about 2/3 of the way through the book and then the story races to the conclusion.
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I rated this book as 3.5 stars. I loved the intrigue of following Marissa Dahl, this quirky, neurodiverse character that is a great editor in Hollywood. Yes, most people laugh behind her backs for her portrayed “weirdness..”  But, you can’t deny she has a great attention to detail and makes a superb editor. This was kind of a love/hate book for me...read below. 

Marissa receives an interview and unbeknownst to her reveals its working with the legendary director Tony Rees. She is offered the job and accepts it automatically due to what the prospects could be with working with Tony...Oscar maybe? She failed to read the manuscript before accepting, so she virtually went into this movie blind. 

The film is produced on an island, that re-enacts a murder of a beautiful young woman years earlier. The murderer was never found; however, the townsfolk automatically are convinced that the boy, who was also neurodiverse, and didn’t follow social norms was the murderer. They even beat him quite badly to end up in the hospital. 

Most of the staff and townspeople are hoping that this movie would finally prove and hopefully provide more concrete evidence that the socially-inept Kyle would soon be exposed and they would feel vindicated once he was locked away for good. . 

This is were the plot thickens and the leading lady was also found murdered by Marissa.  Who would have done it?  Of course, everyone immediately jumps to the theory that the strange Kyle killed again. 

But could this friendly man, by all accounts, actually be a killer?  This is where Marissa’s clever eye and unbelievable knowledge of every single movie is just another readily available picture playing in her head.  Who else had motive?  That is what she will try to find out for herself, regardless if it involves breaking into the police station.  

What I enjoyed and at the same time didn’t care for the characters that Marissa was obviously had Autism Spectrum Disorder!  I loved that this author made her character stand out as someone different and highly intellectual in her work abilities. I didn’t like that she was constantly called weird, by everyone. It just didn’t sit well with me.  In this age we all need to realize Autism is everywhere and to please not call people weird...especially adults!  

The twist at the end was unexpected and Marissa, who knows all minuscule details, even speaks to herself “What if I really am Obi-Wan Kaobi?” She soon catches the real killer!  It was unexpected and she was Obi-Wan Kanobi, without her brilliant attention to detail no doubt the real killer would have been unfounded. 

Favorite quote from book, “Shit creek’s littered with the bodies of people who think they’re smarter than the rest of us.”

Thank you #netgalley and #penguinviking for allowed me to read #PrettyasaPicture in return for my honest opinion.
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In Pretty as a Picture, Elizabeth Little’s latest thriller, film director Marissa Dahl accepts a job to work on an isolated island off the coast of Delaware with the notoriously erratic director Tony Rees. When she arrives on the set, Dahl doesn’t know much about her new job except that the movie is about a woman who was murdered there two decades ago. But there’s more going on besides a megalomaniacal director and an old unsolved murder.  Rees wants the movie to convey, in graphic detail, the woman’s death; numerous scandals are about to erupt and before long, another woman is found dead. Will she be next, Marissa wonders? 


         Extremely talented Marissa, who has high functioning-like autistic social interactions, is befriended by two completed wired-in teenaged girls when she goes in search of peanut butter. The girls are convinced that there’s more to the local murder than meets the eye. Teaming up they work to solve the mystery.

         Little knows Hollywood. Her husband had many miserable years there working in the business (he’s now getting a degree in social worker) and she’s met her share of outrageous and egotistical directors. That in part is why she wrote this, her second mystery.

         “With Pretty as a Picture, I had known for a couple of months that I wanted to write something about the film business—I live in Los Angeles and am married to an ex-filmmaker, so it was a subject that was very close at hand,” says Little. “I tried writing a few chapters, working out some of the plot lines, but nothing really took root until I realized that my main character was a film editor who was far more comfortable in the company of her favorite movies than in that of real-life people. I wish I could say that inspiration struck suddenly—or even efficiently—but I think I just had to write my way into the realization.”

         Little describes herself as writing in a highly immersive first-person perspective.

         “I want my readers to be in both the heads and the bodies of my narrators, to really feel what they’re feeling,” she says. “And in order to do this, I work really hard to put myself into a place, mentally, where I’m able to credibly conjure up the physical and emotional sensations of my narrators. I don’t just put myself in their shoes, in other words—I put myself in their muscle and sinew and skin. It’s a little extreme at times, to be honest, and I wonder at times if I’m Daniel Day Lewissing it—when I finish a day of work, it can really feel like I’m finally coming up for air.  It’s probably far too pretentious an approach for a thriller writer, but it seems, so far, to be working for me.”

         Little may not like Hollywood, but she does like Marissa.

“She’s particularly dear to me because she’s so deeply uncool and sweet and weird,” she says. “She’s vulnerable and awkward and loyal and hilarious and annoying and really, really good at her job. I love her. I hope readers love her, too.”
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If you like movies, I'm sure you will enjoy this mystery. I liked the mystery, the pace, and the red herrings distracted me from what I should have been paying attention to.
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I loved the pacing of the story and tore through this book. At first, I was a bit put off by the number of movie references (I am not a movie buff). However, the references that went over my head did not prevent me from following story and enjoying the read. I think someone who is truly interested in movies and the movie business would love this book. And bonus points for a protagonist on the Autism scale who is shown as a high functioning and loved person.
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Marissa is socially awkward and has a disorder you may want to look up.  It wouldn't hurt to understand that not everyone wants to be in large, loud groups or the center of attention.  No, Marissa wants to take pictures and put them all together to tell the story she sees.  She is a film editor.  She doesn't read people well, but each still from a movie speaks to her and tells her exactly how it needs to go together in order to tell the story in the best way.  She can express this all...in her own internal monologue.  She can't out loud.  It's what she does.

So she's hired to edit a movie already in production when the present editor is fired.  She knows it is about a true crime, an unsolved murder, but she doesn't know any more.  She takes the job, sign the 16 page NDA, and heads out.  She doesn't get to do any editing, however,  The movie is doomed.  Strange occurrences that started before she arrives continues.  Soon, she is trying to figure out what is going on.  She teams up with a literal cast of characters along the way.

I've never been one for the Hollywood scene or one infatuated by movie making or actors.  There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff about filming and jokes about members of a film crew that really didn't mean much to me as a reader.  It didn't matter, though.  Marissa's constant inner monologue, sarcastic and unsure, made sure the reader was never left out of the loop completely.  For someone who couldn't speak to strangers, she was extremely verbose to herself.

I devoured this book in one day.  I had to keep going.  I wanted to not only know the answer to the current and past mysteries, one of which had an anticlimactic answer, I wanted to watch Marissa and her unlikely crew interact with each other and the rest of the world.  I thank the author, publisher, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I'm sure I'm not alone in having difficulty reading right now. It's hard to concentrate during a pandemic, and I've had trouble submersing myself in anything. That being said, Pretty as a Picture did a great job distracting me from the news, and I read it really quickly. Marissa Dahl is a movie editor who, desperate for a job, accepts a role on a film without having read the script. It's being directed by an Oscar winning director, and all that Marissa knows is it's about a dead girl. (This book has a lot of commentary on the types of stories we tell and how we tell them.) When she arrives on set Marissa finds out it's a true crime story being filmed at the location where the woman, Caitlyn, was murdered. I loved Marissa's voice - she has a lot of social anxiety and is really insecure in her personal relationships. She's also smart, sarcastic, and funny, and it was a pleasure to be inside her head. I loved the supporting characters, as well, including two teen wannabe sleuths and an ex Navy SEAL looking out for Marissa. That all being said, I wanted a little more depth to the mystery. I didn't get a really good feel for Caitlyn's story, and some of the characters on the movie set were underdeveloped, or just not featured enough in the majority of the story to justify their importance at the end. Overall, though, this was a good read and a welcome distraction from COVID-19.
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4.5 stars for a story that held my interest to the point of even getting up and tracking more in the middle of the night.

Marissa, film editor, is called in to replace an editor in mid filmimg, but under unusual circumstances. She seems to be on the autism spectrum which adds to her editing talent, but leaves her awkward in social settings.

Lots of sun plots that all play out in a way I really enjoyed, but don't eat to ruin it for othets. Very glad I read it and have another great author to follow.

Thank you NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
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I loved the main character of this book. Marissa is a complex and compelling film editor whom you root for throughout the book. The mystery had me guessing, and the resolution was satisfying. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future.
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I'm always ready for a good mystery and this WAS a good mystery.  Marissa Dahl (like Roald and not Barbie) is a film editor and has been called in to replace a fired editor on a potential blockbuster.  The film is about a real-life event, the murder of a young woman years before.  Interestingly, the movie is being shot on location...the same location that the real murder took place years before.  The site is quite remote and things are definitely not as they seem.  What exactly is happening on this film set?  
I found Marissa to be a unique voice and I enjoyed her point of view.  She is a reliable narrator, but she isn't always sure of herself which was strangely endearing to me.
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This was a great thriller that kept me reading way past my bedtime. The main character was not your typical alpha female, nor was she a broken unreliable narrator. She just felt flawed and real, and I really appreciated that about the book. The insider's look at the film industry was well done and fascinating. If you are a fan of cinema, cold case solving, or just great stories, pick up this book.
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I was obsessed with Elizabeth Little's debut, DEAR DAUGHTER, and so I have been eagerly awaiting her next book. I'm pleased to report that it was everything I wanted it to be: suspenseful, cinematic, and starring a snarky, sarcastic narrator. I was hooked from the beginning, and couldn't put it down until I'd finished reading the last twist.
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Typically, when a reviewer says a book is cinematic, it is a reference to the fact that the book could easily be adapted to the screen and would probably be successful if that happened. In the case of Elizabeth Little’s second novel, Pretty as a Picture, the term cinematic is more of an all-encompassing term intended to describe the entire ambience of the book – everything here is centered around the film-making industry: the plot, the characters, the setting, the crime(s), the motives, the history, the tone, the style, the very essence of the novel. And yes, it would also make a good movie, so the traditional meaning still applies.

Pretty as a Picture’s lead character is Marissa Dahl, a film editor who is quietly making a name for herself within the filmmaking community. When she discovers that her latest secret assignment requires working with one of the most demanding directors in the industry, Tony Rees, she weighs those challenges against the career-boon certain to result from such a high-profile production. Needless to say, Marissa packs her bags and sets off to the mysterious shoot location, which turns out to be an exclusive island off the coast of Delaware. 
 
Marissa quickly learns that the movie is based on a true crime that happened many years earlier on this island. Once on set, Marissa begins to feel that there is more going on than just the making of this movie. Why are the actors behaving so strangely? Half of the crew has quit and the other half seems on the verge of walking at any moment. Marissa cannot seem to obtain the necessary information she needs about the previous film-editor, the person she is replacing. Why did he leave? And where can she find the film footage he has already edited?

When Marissa encounters two precocious children, she discovers they both have noticed some odd things as well and have taken to investigating like two budding Nancy Drew-acolytes should. When events on the island take a very serious turn, Marissa joins them in a hunt for a killer, hopefully before she herself becomes the next victim. 

Elizabeth Little is one of those writers who nails the idea of celebrity, the all-consuming gossip and scrutiny that comes with the limelight, and the melancholy that results when isolation becomes a defense mechanism. Certainly not one be derivative, Little packs Pretty as a Picture with enough secrets, scandals, and revelations to fill several Hollywood studios. In a unique juxtaposition, Elizabeth Little’s literary voice feels both fresh and modern even while it evokes this retro vibe of nostalgia and yesteryear. The inclusion of a true-crime podcast element that occasionally interrupts the narrative further solidifies Pretty as a Picture as a work very much rooted in the zeitgeist of contemporary culture. 

As she did in her debut, Dear Daughter, Elizabeth Little skillfully crafts characters readers care about. It’s refreshing that Marissa Dahl avoids the stereotype of being an unreliable narrator. Despite her quirks, readers will immediately bond with Marissa. Film buffs will especially enjoy her tendency to resort to classic cinema allusions when trying to express her emotions. Reading Pretty as a Picture is sure to have many running off to stream the various movies mentioned throughout the novel. There are even some fascinating tidbits about what the work of a film editor entails and how that factors into the overall movie-making process.
 
Pretty as a Picture is the type of crime novel genre fans will praise and fete for years to come. Both the slower structure that builds on the information the reader learns along the way, culminating in an effective, believable, and satisfying concluding panorama and the ability to create inimitable characters of depth who display both wit and wonder, reflect a writer working at the top of her craft. Pretty as a Picture is a timely work with timeless appeal; a true highlight of early 2020.
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This was a really enjoyable read. Marissa gets called in last minute to work on a film after the previous editor was fired suddenly... but the whole premise of the shoot is kept under wraps and she is not given any information about the movie she will be working on until she arrives at the island where the film is being shot. The high-profile director, it seems, is working on a movie about an unsolved murder that happened on that very island, in hopes that the movie will bring new details to light and help to solve the case.

The characters in this book are delightful; from Marissa, who is socially awkward, but genius at breaking down movie scenes and film shots, and stitching them together into a cohesive film; to the two teenage girls who fancy themselves detectives and start a podcast about the case; to the tough-but-sweet bodyguard, Isaiah, who is tasked with protecting Marissa. When a cast member is found murdered on set, will this group be able to solve not one, but two murders?
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Pretty As a Picture by Elizabeth Little adds a new twist to the classic whodunnit plot. The lead character, Marissa, is a young lady on the autistic spectrum. She adores movies and works as a film editor. Marissa, who constantly struggles to interpret emotion through body language and tone, finds herself in the unlikely role of sleuth. 

As the plot unfolds one might ask, does art imitate life or life imitate art? The lead actress of the movie reenacting a decades murder is found dead on the very same beach. Is it a copycat crime or has the original killer come to call? 😱

Quirky and clever, Pretty As a Picture is most certainly a cinephile's delight!
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Absolutely loved this. A completely new kind of hero is at the center of this movie mystery. I loved the true crime podcast elements, the island setting, the two parallel deaths, and all the twists. The supporting characters were outstanding--especially Isaiah!--and Marissa was so unusual and captivating. The details on-set were captivating, the geography of the island and the hotel added danger, and the clash of Hollywood types and islanders was so fun to read.
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I am a big movie fan and have been for my entire life. Therefore I enjoyed the extra little tidbits of information thrown into this novel by the author. The movie details as well as the details of the main character's job make this book more enjoyable for sure. This book is a quick little gulp of a thriller. It's not particularly memorable if I'm being honest, but it came along at the perfect time as I was trying to figure out something to read over winter break from school. I'd recommend it to fans of thrillers and to fans of movies. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wants to think too hard about their books.
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I really enjoyed this book. At first I had a hard time getting into it but then it enveloped me whole. 
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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Marissa is a quirky, awkward film editor who is chosen to work on a movie with the famous director, Tony Rees. It's based on a true crime that was never solved and part way through filming, the lead actress is also found dead. Because the set is on a remote island, things get dicey as Tony has assigned security detail for Marissa and the others. Scattered throughout are segments of a podcast that airs after the fact. It's an interesting story with a lot of film jargon thrown in but you don't really need to understand it as the plot is clear.
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